A historic exhibit of medieval manuscripts and papal documents associated with St. Francis of Assisi will be on display at Brooklyn Borough Hall from Dec. 2 to Jan. 14.
It was on view this past week at the U.N. Speakers at the opening in Manhattan affirmed the saint’s association with the world body’s peaceful aims and hoped his namesake pope would pay a visit next September.
“Friar Francis: Traces, Words, Images” is a collection of 19 manuscripts and artifacts from the Sacred Convent of St. Francis of Assisi in Italy.
The artifacts date from the 13th and 14th centuries and are outside Italy for the first time in 700 years.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Vatican nuncio to the U.N., said the difficult and costly process to bring the “priceless documents” to New York is “worth the effort, because we believe that the values practiced and preached by St. Francis are also the fundamental values of the United Nations, namely peace, the harmonious development of peoples in brotherhood and love for nature.
“Without these values, we have wars and conflicts, injustices and all forms of slavery, environmental crises and disasters,” he said.
One of the most striking pieces in the exhibit is Codex 338, which contains the oldest existing copies of St. Francis’ writings, including the Rule of the Friars Minor and the original draft of “The Canticle of the Creatures,” dictated by St. Francis. The “Canticle” is considered the oldest poetic text of Italian literature.
The exhibit includes a fragment of a biography of St. Francis by Thomas of Celano, his contemporary, and several papal bulls that refer to the saint and his religious order. The oldest papal document displayed is from 1220.
Steven Acunto told Catholic News Service the manuscripts are “completely irreplaceable and precious.” Acunto is president of the Italian Academy Foundation, an institute of cultural diplomacy that is one of the sponsors of the exhibit.